Hamlin defends bump that crashed Elliott, then apologizes

Hamlin defends bump that crashed Elliott, then apologizes

Cup Series

Hamlin defends bump that crashed Elliott, then apologizes

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Denny Hamlin insisted he did not intentionally get into the back of Chase Elliott while racing for the lead in the final laps at Martinsville Speedway.

Going into Turn 3 on Lap 499, Hamlin sent Elliott spinning. Neither driver wound up winning the race to advance into the championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. And the high stakes were on Hamlin’s mind when the incident occurred.

“I got into the back of him and he spun out and somebody got in the back of me and I wrecked, too. It was a mess at the end,” said Hamlin, who finished sixth. “Everybody was doing the exact same thing. I hate it for his team, I understand … they’ve had a win for a long time coming, but this is a ticket to Homestead.

“I’m not sitting here saying I wrecked him on purpose, I tried to move him out of the way and spun out.”

On the contact, Hamlin said, “Well he didn’t make the corner because I had his back end jacked up. That’s for sure. I was extremely loose, I got in there too hot and got in the back of him.”

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After the checkered flag, Hamlin and Elliott came together on the backstretch coming to pit road. The two then climbed from their cars and exchanged words. Both then drove back around to the frontstretch pit road and parked nose to tail, but did not approach each other again.

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“He said I wrecked him and obviously Ray Charles saw that. Obviously, it wasn’t intentional,” Hamlin said of their conversation. “I wanted to move him out of the way and there was just not enough grip on the racetrack for him to save it.

“It was no different … he washed the 2 [Brad Keselowski] up the racetrack as well. So, I mean, we can play favorites if we want but unfortunately, this is a ticket to Homestead at stake.”

Considered a mild-manner driver both on and off the track, Elliott didn’t hide his disdain afterward. Just like Hamlin, he addressed the issue with media around him and called the incident unnecessary.

“I got punted from behind and wrecked in Turn 3 leading the race. I don’t know what his problem was,” Elliott said. “It was unnecessary, I hadn’t raced him dirty all day long. There was no reason for that and he comes over and talks to me a second ago and tells me he had somebody pushing him into Turn 3.

“I thought that was funny because there was nobody within two car lengths of him into Turn 3 behind myself. I don’t know what the deal was, but it’s so disappointing. We had the best car I’ve ever had here at Martinsville. And had an opportunity to go straight to Homestead and because of him, we don’t.”

Having led the race four different times for 123 laps, Elliott finished 27th and continues to seek an elusive first career win.

“We had a great car today and we had an opportunity,” he said. “We had a good restart there at the end and felt like I was doing what I needed to do. And I can’t control his decisions and whatever the hell that was. We’re on to Texas.”

After the race, Hamlin took to social media, saying he did “regret the outcome.”

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